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Joint 3I/U2M2 Project Grants Open Pathways For Infectious Disease Research

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The University of Utah Health Immunology, Inflammation and Infectious Disease Initiative (3i), in conjunction with the University of Utah Molecular Medicine program (U2M2), has awarded program planning grants to four collaborative research projects. The funded projects will explore alternative treatments and diagnoses for many human disorders, including viral infections and sepsis.

“The Program Planning Grants are the natural next step from our previous grants aimed at building new collaborative teams,” says Ryan O’Connell, Ph.D., director of the 3i Initiative and an associate professor in Pathology at U of U Health. These previously funded teams and other groups fortified by new faculty recruits have matured to compete for large multi-PI grants. This program gives these teams the added resources needed to earn a fundable score by an external funder”

This is first time that U2M2 has joined with 3i to support these grants.

“Molecular Medicine is very excited to partner with the University of Utah 3i Program to help support Program Project Planning Grants, and to continue to advance research excellence at the University and throughout the broader community,” says Matthew Rondina, M.D., medical director of the U2M2 program.

The funded projects investigate an array of topics, from immunity during pregnancy and fetal development to Mechanisms underlying adverse health outcomes following congenital viral infection 

The 2021 awardees are:

Ending the tyranny of molecular recognition elements: new tools for pathogen detection

Marc Porter, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor in Chemical Engineering

Kimberly Hanson, M.D., MHS, Professor in Internal Medicine

Lars Laurentius, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor in Electrical Computer Engineering

Albert Park, M.D., Professor in Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Himanshu Sant, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering

Mary Beth Scholand, M.D., Associate Professor in Pulmonary Medicine

Mikhail Skliar, Ph.D., Professor in Chemical Engineering

Ling Zang, Ph.D., Professor in Material Science & Engineering


Mechanisms underlying adverse health outcomes following congenital viral infection

Anna E. Beaudin, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Hematology & Hematological Malignancies

Albert Park, M.D., Professor in Surgery

Matthew Firpo, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor in Surgery


The development of long-lived and broadly-acting immunity during pregnancy and fetal development

Matthew A. Williams, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Pathology

Keke C. Fairfax, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Pathology

Anna E. Beaudin, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Hematology & Hematological Malignancies

Jeffrey S. Hale, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Pathology


Defining Novel Bacterial and Host Regulators of Pediatric Sepsis

Anna J. Blaschke, M.D., Ph.D., Professor in Pediatrics & Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Hillary Crandall, M.D., Ph.D.,  Assistant Professor in Pediatrics & Pediatrics Critical Care

Matthew A. Mulvey, Ph.D., Professor in Microbiology & Immunology

Aaron C. Petrey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Microbiology & Immunlogy

Christian Con Yost, M.D., Professor in Pediatrics & Neonatology

The funded projects support mature collaborations among multiple independent investigators or research groups at U of U Health. This support provides investigators the ability to obtain additional data and project management support that will propel these teams to large multi-PI extramural awards.  Projects were prioritized in the following categories: bacterial infection and drug resistance, infectious disease and global health, microbiota and mucosal immunity, neuroinflammation, T cells and vaccines and tumor immunity.

Built on the foundation of more than 200 faculty members who conduct research across the university, 3i was created to improve diagnoses and treatment of many diverse disorders related to human health. The initiative hopes to integrate basic, translational and clinical research in these areas by enriching the 3i community and supporting collaboration.

The University of Utah Molecular Medicine Program (U2M2) is a key multi-departmental and interdisciplinary engine for clinical departments. U2M2 investigators have primary appointments that advance translational science by catalyzing the development, testing, and implementation of new diagnostics and therapies for a variety of human diseases and conditions.